About Drugs and Alcohol

Abusing Drugs and Alcohol

Alcoholism and drug addiction are not the same. It is important to properly evaluate assess and diagnosis a person with both disorders.

A person with both alcoholism and drug addiction is often referred to as being "dually-addicted". Some terminology in this industry can be confusing. For example, dually-addicted should not be confused with the term dual diagnosis, which up until recently, meant someone who had a drug or alcohol problem and a mental health diagnosis, such as depression.

Because many people suffer from both alcohol and drug dependence, scientists speculate that these disorders may have some common causes and risk factors.

Some Idea of the Cost of Drug and Alcohol Use

Alcohol and drug abuse cost society an estimated $86.1 billion from direct costs and losses in productivity related to crime, social welfare expenditures, motor vehicle crashes, and fire destruction. Drug abuse is estimated to have cost $57.5 billion of these non-health-related costs, and alcohol abuse is estimated to have cost another $28.7 billion.

Drugs and Alcohol Statistics

  • The level of alcohol use was associated with illicit drug use in 2007. Among the 17.0 million heavy drinkers aged 12 or older, 31.3 percent were current illicit drug users. Persons who were not current alcohol users were less likely to have used illicit drugs in the past month (3.4 percent) than those who reported current use of alcohol but did not meet the criteria for binge or heavy use (5.5 percent), binge use but did not meet the criteria for heavy use (16.1 percent), heavy use of alcohol (31.3 percent).

  • Alcohol consumption levels also were associated with tobacco use. Among heavy alcohol users aged 12 or older, 58.1 percent smoked cigarettes in the past month, while only 19.0 percent of non-binge current drinkers and 16.4 percent of persons who did not drink alcohol in the past month were current smokers. Smokeless tobacco use and cigar use also were more prevalent among heavy drinkers (12.3 and 17.5 percent, respectively) than among non-binge drinkers (2.0 and 4.3 percent) and nondrinkers (1.9 and 2.2 percent).

Genetic connection to drugs and alcohol abuse

Research has established that some of the risk for addiction to both drugs and alcohol is inherited. Children of alcoholics are 50 to 60 percent more likely to develop alcohol use disorders than people in the general population. Similarly, children of parents who abuse illicit drugs may be 45 to 79 percent more likely to do so themselves than the general public. This suggests that some of the risk factors for alcohol and other drug use are rooted in genetics, though studies of specific families have not proven a genetic contribution.

Treatment for drug and alcohol abuse

The treatment and rehabilitation process is similar for people suffering from both alcoholism and drug addiction. People who suffer from both diseases are treated with the same modalities as someone with one or the other malady. The differences between rehab and treatment for someone with both alcoholism and drug addiction would primarily be making the dually addicted person acutely aware they have both concerns and address both forms of the disease concurrently and accordingly.

Combined cost of drugs and alcohol problems

Alcohol and drug abuse impose significant costs to the social welfare system. This study conservatively estimates that more than 3.3 percent of current social welfare cases are attributable to alcohol or drug abuse. This number is directly tied to cases for which there is a direct administrative finding of eligibility due to disability or impairment from alcohol or drug disorders. It is possible that the actual number of persons whose alcohol or drug abuse problems led to participation in the social welfare system may indeed be much higher, because both alcohol and drug use prevalence rates are somewhat higher than this estimate (in the range of 5 or even 10 percent). Determining the level at which alcohol and drug abuse impair or prevent persons from working and lead to receipt of welfare benefits is an important policy issue, and this study represents an attempt to analyze available data and construct reasonable criteria for this issue. drug alcohol rehab treatment center drug and alcohol

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